SPORTS

Lienen’s swift exit from Olympiakos

Former Tottenham and Sevilla manager Juande Ramos and fellow Spaniard Ernesto Valverde were the early favorites to succeed Ewald Lienen, who was dismissed as Olympiakos coach yesterday after just 53 days in charge of the Piraeus club. The Reds’ new owner, shipping tycoon Vangelis Marinakis, decided to sack the German after Olympiakos failed to make it to the playoffs of the Europa League. Olympiakos lost 1-0 to Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel on Thursday and dropped out of Europe’s second-tier competition in the third qualifying round. During his brief spell at the helm, Lienen – who left German side TSV 1860 Munich to coach Olympiakos in June – had presided over three other games that all ended in victories for the Reds. However, the 56-year-old saw his side produce a lackluster performance in Israel, where they went down to a goal from Roberto Colautti late in the first half. Lienen’s men did not create any clear-cut chances in the second half and the visitors’ misery was compounded in added time when Brazilian striker Diogo was sent off for hitting goalkeeper Liran Strauber. «Following a meeting between Olympiakos’s major shareholder Vangelis Marinakis and Ewald Lienen, it was agreed that his contract should be terminated by mutual consent,» Olympiakos said on its official website. «There was a lot of pressure on me and the team and I have decided to leave by mutual consent,» Lienen told reporters. «It was a short but very nice experience for me. Olympiakos is a big team with great facilities and I wish the new owner and the club good luck in the future.» Marinakis, who took over ownership of the club shortly after Lienen was hired, said that a new manager would be hired «within the next few days.» «When I took over Olympiakos, I knew the difficulties I would confront, but in my life I have become accustomed to dealing with difficult problems,» said the businessman. «We are going to get a very good manager,» he said after his meeting with Lienen. Spaniard Ernesto Valverde, who led Olympiakos to the Greek league-and-cup double and has been out of a job since being sacked by Villareal in January, is one of the favorites to succeed Lienen. Valverde remains a popular figure in Piraeus, where many fans were disappointed to see him leave after he fell out with the club’s previous owner Sokratis Kokkalis. However, local reports suggested that former Tottenham and Sevilla manager Juande Ramos is already in talks with the Reds to succeed Lienen. Marinakis also met with Diogo yesterday and warned the player about his conduct. The striker was also reportedly fined 40,000 euros by Olympiakos for getting sent off. There was better news in the Europe League on Thursday for Aris, which progressed to the playoff stage after two goals from Danijel Cesarec earned Hector Cuper’s team a 2-2 draw at home against Polish side Jagiellonia Bialystok. The Yellows had won the first leg 2-1. The match was marred by fighting between fans outside the ground and Polish supporters and police inside the Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium. Five Polish men were convicted of public order offenses yesterday. Four were released but a fifth received a 29-month jail sentence for assault and other offenses. Aris discovered yesterday that it will face Scottish Cup winners Dundee United in the next round of the Europa League. The draw, which took place in Switzerland, also pitted PAOK, which was knocked out of the Champions League this week by Dutch giants Ajax, against another formidable opponent: Fenerbahce of Turkey. The last of Greece’s representatives in the Europa League, AEK, will play against Austria Vienna. All the two-legged ties are set to take place on August 19 and 26.